Domestic Lamb

New season lamb turn-off kicks off in NSW as mild season favours growth

Terry Sim, July 1, 2015
These 14.4kg cwt new season March-drop Poll Dorset lambs at Gulgong, NSW, sold for $115 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These 14.4kg cwt new season March-drop Poll Dorset lambs at Gulgong, NSW, sold for $115 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

NEW season lambs are coming into NSW saleyards, with the mild season and recent rain helping crop, pasture and lamb growth, raising the prospect of an earlier turn-off in some areas.

This contrasts with the start of the new season lamb turn-off in SA, where lighter runs are being yarded in reaction to the tighter season and limited pasture growth.

About 230 new season lambs were yarded at Cowra last Friday, with the 20-22kg lambs making $147 or 623c/kg cwt with $10 skins.

At Dubbo on Monday, Ray White Rural director David Armitage said about 400 new season Poll Dorset and White Suffolk cross lambs were yarded in a normal turn-off in a good season off early oat crops.

The National Livestock Reporting Service said Dubbo’s 12-16kg cwt suckers averaged $87 or 481c/kg with a $10 skin; the 16-20kg drafts made $122-$130 or 600-706c/kg with $2-$3 skins, and; the 18-24kg lines ranged from $138-$156 or 591-674c/kg, with $10-$12 skins.

“I think they will start to dribble in now, but we are a month to a month-and-a-half away from seeing some real runs.

“The buyers are looking for trade weight lambs and I don’t think there are enough about for them, looking at those prices,” Mr Armitage said.

“There will be a bit of pressure early.”

Cowra expecting good runs of suckers mid-August

Landmark’s Rick Power at Cowra said parts of NSW might turn-off lambs earlier this year, due to the mild weather, with some lambs between Grenfell and Young already weaned and on crops.

“It has been very mild, we haven’t had it cold in the Tablelands yet.

“If the weather stays the same I would think you would see a good run of suckers well before the first week of August,” he said.

“Generally you say suckers need sunshine in the second week of August, but I think you will see them trickling in during the third week of July – the price is there.”

Some Forbes new season drafts up to two weeks earlier

VC Reid and Son agent at Forbes, Scott Reid, said 1200 new season lambs were yarded for sale on Tuesday and about 1000 last week, two weeks earlier than normal.

“Normally you would only yard a pen or two before July.”

He said the season had not been outstanding, with February-drop new season lambs yarded from only two producers finishing lambs on irrigated Lucerne crops.

“It is a good sucker-growing season at the moment and I would expect by the middle of July we would be yarding 5000-10,000.”

The NLRS quoted Forbes’ new season lambs as averaging $78 or 583c/kg ($8 skin) for the sub-12kg drafts. Dorpers, 12-24kg, made $136 or 614c/kg with a $1 skin. Crossbred lambs, 12-24kg, ranged from $110-$168, or 609-670c/kg, with an $8-$11 skin.

Forbes district lamb producer Noel Pengilly at Eugowra said he always lambed some ewes down on February 1 onto irrigated lucerne and winter crops – oats and ryegrass. He will turn off 10,000-12,000 lambs annually.

“You wouldn’t get a better year for stock than this year, we’ve had rain and then it fines up with plenty of sunshine and that is all good for suckers.

“Yesterday we averaged $153 for 430 and the week before $151 for 330, or something like that – for 22-24kg lambs,” he said.

“They are unbelievable – good prices.”

Wagga’s sucker lambs coming in early

Elders auctioneer at Wagga, Joe Wilks, said a pen of 23kg cwt new season lambs made $153 or about 670c/kg to a domestic buyer in the centre last Thursday. Producers have been waiting for growth in oat crops to finish lambs.

“There is the odd pen coming into Wagga, but certainly no volume numbers and my advice is to keep them going – I want to get another three weeks out of them before I load up – ideally at supermarket weights 18-25kg, but you want them to average 23kg.

“They will come in a fraction earlier because of the price, but about the same time, in late July-early August.”

In SA at Dublin Landmark auctioneer Bill Warton said the new season lambs yarded came in a fraction earlier because of a lack of pasture due to the dry season, with the normal flush due in August-September. The NLRS said the lighter Dublin drafts, up to 12kg, sold for $73-$88 or 575-692c/kg, with $4-$5 skins and the 12-24kg lambs made $89-$132, or 517-649c/kg, with $5-$8 skins. At Naracoorte yesterday the new season drafts at 16-22kg sold for $115-$128, or 581-606c/kg, with $6 skins.

NLRS slaughter indicators on the move

After Tuesday saleyard sale, the NLRS quoted its national and Eastern State Daily Indicators for trade and heavy lambs as continuing to improve above 600c/kg, while mutton rates fell back.

The ESDIs for lambs are: restocker 576c/kg, up 9 cents; Merino 550c/kg, down 1c; light 569c/kg, down 3c; trade 605c/kg, up 3c; heavy 603c/kg, up 3. The national trade lamb indicator is up two cents to 604c/kg and the heavy lamb indice is on 603c/kg, up two cents.

The ESDI for mutton is back two cents to 404c/kg and the national indice fell similarly to 403c/kg.

Dubbo new season lambs $122-$156

In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 20,115 lambs, 695 more than last week, and 5245 sheep, 885 more.

The NLRS said it was a mixed quality yarding, with a large percentage of light weight lambs and good numbers of heavy weights, but limited runs of trade weights.

Light weight lambs were $3 cheaper, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $71-$108. Trade lambs were around firm, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $94-$140 to average 590c/kg cwt. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $122-$156. Heavy weight lambs were firm to $2 cheaper, with the over 22kg cwt 4 scores making $130-$200.

Merino lambs were up to $5 cheaper, with the trade weights selling from $86-$118 and the heavy weight Merinos sold firm up to $155. Restocker lambs were cheaper, from $80-$111.

It was a fair quality yarding of mutton, with good numbers of well-finished sheep and most grades sold $3-$5 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $40-$86, while the better 3 and 4 score full wool Merinos sold from $83-$148 and the crossbreds made to $136. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $86-$135.

Tamworth lambs $5 dearer

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3825 lambs, 150 more than last week, and 2250 sheep, 400 more.

The NLRS said there was a good supply of lambs, with more heavy trade and heavy lines, and a few pens of light store lambs. Quality improved, with mainly crop and supplementary-finished lambs offered.

Competition was stronger, with most sales $5 dearer. Light weight lambs to restockers were $5 cheaper, averaging $98.90. Trade weight 3 score lambs to processors were $12 dearer at $111.70 and heavy weights sold for $144-$160, averaging $151 or 576c/kg cwt.

The yarding of mutton consisted of several lots of well-finished ewes and wethers off crop and carrying a good skin. The market was $5-$8 dearer. Medium weight Merino ewes made $87, up $8, while crossbreds sold to restockers at $88.60.

Forbes’ new season trade lambs $140-$165

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 34,200 lambs, 5637 more than last week, and 4000 sheep, 69 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb quality was improved from the previous sale with more well-finished lambs. Most were heavy and extra heavy weight lambs. Extra buyers competed in a firm to dearer market.

There were 1200 new season lambs penned and trade weights made $140-$165. Light older lambs held firm with prices ranging from $108-$118. Trade weights were $4-$6 dearer, at $118-$158. Heavy trade lambs 22-24kg cwt lifted $7, to $148-$169. Extra heavy weights were $3-$4 better, from $152-$208. Carcase prices ranged from 575-635c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $104-$155 with a better run of lambs offered.

Mutton quality was again very mixed. Most of the sheep were Merinos and prices eased slightly. Merino ewes sold from $76-$138. Crossbred ewes sold from $85-$132. Merino wethers sold from $86-$153.

Bendigo’s best lambs $2-$8 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards, the agents yarded 9664 lambs, 522 fewer than last week, and 4006 sheep, 2002 less.

The NLRS said there was a noticeable decline in quality, making it one of the smallest and plainest yardings this year. There were more Merino lambs and lines in plain fat score 1 and 2 condition. The usual buyers attended, but not all operated to capacity. Prices varied on quality.

The limited numbers of better finished trade and export lambs were mostly $2 to $8 dearer, although the neatest domestic lambs, 22-24kg cwt, gained up to $11. Secondary lambs lacking weight and fat cover were mostly $2-$3 cheaper. The market reached a top of $200 for a pen of export lambs estimated at 30kg cwt with a $10 skin.

Secondary lambs lacking carcase finish dominated the yarding and many were offered in smaller pen lots of mixed quality tail-end drafts. Most light weight and plain lambs sold from $80-$115 at varied carcase rates. Very small crossbred lambs sold from $38-$78, though odd pens sold to restockers were dearer.

There were several big runs of light weight Merino lambs. Restockers paid from $34-$66.60 for the smallest Merino lambs to grow-on, while processors generally paid from $72-$105, with a few pens of better trade weight types making to $122.20.

Domestic lamb buyers pushed into heavier weight lambs to access better carcase finish and quality, paying up to $179. Most of the lead runs of lambs, in fat score 3 to 4 condition, sold to domestic processors at $140-$176, or 615-630c/kg cwt. There was limited export competition, due partly to a lack of extra heavy lambs. Most heavy lambs to exporters made from $170-$188, with just the one pen at $200.

Competition for sheep declined, with not all the regular mutton buyers competing. Heavy crossbred ewes were generally cheaper, as were trade weight Merino wethers. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $92-$130, while Merino ewes topped at $125 and wethers at $103.

Ballarat lambs up $10 dearer

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,449 lambs, 1936 fewer than last week, and 4202 sheep, 1289 more than last week.

The NLRS said lamb quality was average, with more light and plainer types yarded. The usual buyers attended, but not all operated fully.

Bidding was keen on suitable lambs, with most selling $2-$5 higher, and up to $10 dearer. Restockers paid mostly from $76-$112 for terminal lambs, and $122-$152 for first cross ewe lambs. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $64-$104. Lighter trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $90-$142, or 620-630c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $124-$153, with the heavier drafts made $138-$170, or 560-680c/kg, to average around 620-630c/kg.

Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $152-$198. Merino lambs sold mostly from $100-$118, with lighter lots making $66-$102. Heavy hoggets sold to $133.

Sheep quality was very mixed, with all weights and grades offered. The better covered sheep sold a few dollars dearer, while lighter weight, plainer types were a few dollars easier in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $45-$93 and very light 1 scores made $15-$55. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $67-$110.50, from 320-460c/kg cwt, with the Merinos averaging around 410c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep made from $77-$149. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $100.50-$131.50, at around 430c/kg, with lighter weights selling from $77-$104. Rams of all weights sold from $50-$88.

Dublin new season lambs make $80-$132

At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,519 lambs, 3969 more than last week, and 1354 sheep, 129 fewer.

A very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to fluctuating competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. The first light weight new seasons lambs were snapped up by trade buyers. Feeders were only occasional bidders and there was some limited interest from restockers on woolly Merinos.

The drafts of new season lambs sold to trade buyers for $80-$132. Light weight crossbred older lambs to feeders sold at $62. Light weight older crossbred lambs to trade buyers lifted $3, selling from $106-$120 to average 535c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores eased marginally, making $120-$132 to average 562c/kg. Heavy trade weights eased $11, selling from $126-$146, averaging 545c/kg. Heavy weights eased up to $9, to $142-$180, or 567-585c/kg. Extreme heavy weights sold to $200.

Light weight Merinos sold to restockers from $60-$110 and light weights to processors eased $8, to $95-$106. Trade weight 3 scores eased $5, to $110-$130, averaging 483c/kg. Heavy weights eased $3, selling from $152-$165, or 521-557c/kg. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $116-$132 and crossbreds made $116-$146.

The mixed sheep yarding sold to solid trade and processor competition and restockers operated on woolly wethers at $67-$86. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $60-$81 and heavy weight 3 score ewes sold from $90-$110, averaging 329c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers lifted $6, to $111-$124 to average 385c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold to $122.

Naracoorte suckers make $115-$128

In the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2117 lambs, 581 more than last week, and 1238 sheep, 344 more.

The NLRS said more trade and processor buyers attended, but not all were fully active. Restockers purchased a small number and lamb prices were easier than last week.

A small number of new season sucker lambs came forward to range from $115-$128. Light weight lambs ranged from $61-$100, to be $4 easier. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $100-$114, to be firm. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $106-$140, at an average of 570c/kg cwt, back $5-$8. Restockers paid $62-$106 for lambs.

Heavy 4 score lambs mainly ranged from $130-$156 and extra heavy weights made $160-$172, back $10-$12. Hoggets ranged from $94-$111.

Lightweight 2 score ewes, mainly Merinos, ranged from $48-$80. Medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes mainly sold from $90-$120, at an average of 420c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 and 5 score ewes made $113-$138, to be firm.

Muchea’s heavy lambs $7 easier

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5940 lambs, 2070 more than last week, and 926 sheep, 1115 fewer.

The NLRS said there were reasonable supplies of trade weight lambs, but most were secondary and Merino drafts more suitable for restockers. Wether and ewe mutton supplies were limited. Not all of the regular processor buyers operated.

Live export orders were selective on wether lambs, wethers and rams. Prices held up reasonably well given the buyer activity, with restockers taking advantage of the easier market.

Light weight store lambs sold firm at $40-$65. Light lambs to restockers, feeders and processors made $65-$89, with most sales close to firm. Trade weight lambs sold from $70-$113, back $3, with a solid percentage going to restockers and feeders at close to 470c/kg cwt. Better conditioned and prime trade lambs averaged about 480c/kg cwt, ranging from 450-510c/kg. Heavy lambs made from $109-$124 to be around $7 easier, but quality was back.

Ewe prices remained similar, but the limited numbers distorted quotes. Light weight and conditioned ewes made $39-$55. The 2 score mutton sold to processors for $55-$75 to be slightly firmer and averaging about 290c/kg cwt. Better conditioned and heavy weight Merino ewes sold from $72-$85, with crossbred ewes making to $90, similar to last week. Wether prices were close to equal with better export and heavy weight drafts making $80-$100. Lighter weight and store wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $50-$90, similar to last week. Ram lambs sold to processors for $70-$95. Young rams sold to live exporters and feeders for $30-$75. Old rams sold to processors for $30-$57, close to last week’s prices.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.

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